Most Americans would be surprised to learn that their government has declined to join most other nations in UN treaties addressing inadequate housing, poverty, children's rights, health care, racial discrimination, and migrant workers. Yet this book documents how the U.S. has, for decades, declined to ratify widely accepted treaties on these and many other basic human rights. Providing the first comprehensive topical survey, the contributors build a case and specific agendas for the nation to change course and join the world community as a protector of human rights.
“This is a tightly organized volume of short essays by sociologists who advocate greater participation by the U.S. in the international human rights system; or, perhaps more accurately, they advocate a broader provision of international human rights within the U.S. It appears that most of the authors are affiliated with a fairly new activist group that calls itself Sociologists without Borders, but in any case, this is a volume that specifically advocates action. The authors characterize the U.S. as a “rogue state,” since it is internationally a laggard in the provision of social rights. The introduction by Frances Fox Piven, a well-known progressive social scientist, argues that it will only be through the organized action of social movements that a fuller menu of rights is likely to be made available to ordinary Americans. The volume is organized topically around different classes of rights (for children, women, and indigenous peoples). Each essay is short, to the point, and accompanied by a bibliography. Recommended.
"The collection is particularly well suited for beginning students who want to understand the range of issues encompassed by the field of human rights, as well as the international standards governing particular issues and how U.S. behavior falls short of those standards. . . . Excellent both for providing a quick overview of a single issue, and for facilitating comparisons across issues. . . . Any reader interested in the international standards governing a particular right and U.S. action or inaction on that right, will find this a good place to start."
“Where once the United States saw itself—and the world saw it—as the savior of oppressed peoples, the United States is now seen as the leading rogue state. In fact, the grounds for American moral hubris were always shaky. How could the United States be a champion of human rights in the world when for two centuries, the fundamental rights embedded in the U.S. constitution, in U.S. political culture, and in U.S. laws had never been widely honored?”
—from the foreword by Frances Fox Piven
“An important book. … The contributors recap the relevant international standards and show the systematic, not merely accidental, failure of the United States to comply with these norms. And they admirably insist not only that international human rights apply to the United States but that this country in particular must be held to the highest level of performance.”
—from the postscript by Jack Donnelly
List of Tables and Figures Introduction, Frances Fox Piven Chapter 1 Human Vulnerabilities: On Individual and Social Rights, Bryan S. Turner Chapter 2 Rights to Housing, Dave Overfelt and David L. Brunsma Chapter 3 Health as a Human Right, Antonio Ugalde and Nuria Homedes Chapter 4 Labor Rights and Rights of Workers, Vincent J. Roscigno and Andrew W. Martin Chapter 5 Rights of the Child, Brian K. Gran Chapter 6 Rights of Migrants and Minorities, Cecilia Menjivar and Ruben G. Rumbaut Chapter 7 Women's Rights, Tola Olu Pearce Chapter 8 Rights of People with Disabilities, Jean M. Lynch Chapter 9 Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Keri E. Iyall Smith Chapter 10 The Human Rights to Sexual and Gender Self-Expression, Gerald F. Lackey Chapter 11 Language Rights as Human Rights, Tanya Golash-Boza and Douglas Parker Chapter 12 Cultural Rights, Rodne D. Coates Chapter 13 Rights to Water, Food, and Development, Jenniffer M. Santos-Hernandez and John Barnshaw Chapter 14 Environmental Rights, Damayanti Banerjee Chapter 15 Rights of Prisoners, Angela Hattery and Earl Smith Chapter 16 Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, John Hagan and Wenona Rymond-Richmond Chapter 17 Rights to Participate in Democracy, Mark Frezzo Chapter 18 The Social Forum Process and Human Rights, Marina Karides Chapter 19 Freedom and Security, Judith Blau and Alberto Moncada Postscript, Jack Donnelly Index About the Editors and Contributors